Business software is so good now, that it’s competing with consumer software

For a long time, business software was clunky. Consumer software continued to radically innovate on user experience, staying ahead of the curve.

Palm to iPhone. Styluses to capacitive touch. Taxis to Ubers. Torrents to Netflix. MP3s to Spotify, etc. We’ve lived through this story of how innovation in consumer software radically improved our lives in the last decade.

At one point, business software had no choice but to stop being clunky and terrible to use, because nobody wanted to walk into work to use shitty software. And as teams got more power to pick the software they wanted, business software had no choice but to be simple enough for anyone to try and buy.

If a business application wasn’t easy to use, people just abandoned it and start trialing something else.¬†Apps that had the best user experience started winning more often at work than the ones that didn’t.

Everyone called this trend ‘consumerization of business software/IT’. Dropbox, Google Drive, Docs and Sheets, etc led this era. But despite all efforts by business apps to keep things simple, consumer software continued to set the gold standard in user experience. Business software just followed the direction already set by consumer software products.

However, I think the scene is changing.

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Fighting outdated tribal knowledge in sales and support teams

When businesses start out, support and sales teams (like any other team) are closely knit. The teams are small and most folks know the ins and outs of the product being sold. Everyone stays on top of new product updates by playing with the latest features, reading documentation or just being quizzed in the hallway by another team member.

When these team members work together, they create knowledge that’s shared within their tribe. They know what works really well in the product and what doesn’t, what pitch to use when on a sales call and what’s the best solution to provide when a certain problem is reported by customers. Even if someone doesn’t know the direct answer, they’d most certainly know an expert in the tribe who can help them out.

This is tribal knowledge. In most companies, tribal knowledge is not written down. It’s created every day. People acquire tribal knowledge by working together, talking about problems, sharing insights and know-how when solving those problems together.

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